Friday, April 30, 2010

Music, Movement and Autism

I spent last week at the Counsel for Exceptional Children National Conference and Expo, where we exhibited our Achievement Products line to the educators, students and parents who strive to ensure children with special needs, and/or special gifts and talents, receive the appropriate educational services they require. The Expo floor is filled with products and resources to support their efforts, but the days are also filled with opportunities for learning through the wide ranging sessions offered. I attended a number of those sessions myself and, as always, came away with far more knowledge than I had going in.

One particular session made me wish this conference had taken place a week earlier, when I was asked by a customer about what music we had in Achievement Products for children with autism. In my reply a week ago I spoke about the numerous music CD’s we carry, that are used by therapists and teachers:

But at last week’s conference I learned about a study that showed musical instruments to be even more effective at engaging children with autism.

Alexandra Raber, out of Birmingham-Southern College, presented her study of 22 children with autism, and the effect that 5 music activities: songs with and without movement; action poems; songs with full body movement, and instrument playing, had on their lesson engagement as measured by their oral response, physical response, attention & eye contact. Of the 5 activities, only one resulted in full participation by all 22 students, and that was instrument playing.

As a buyer for the Achievement Products line I have noted that musical instruments are an important part of the line (Bead Drum, Rainbow Tube, Band in a Box, Concertina, Pat Bells, Music and Movement Set). Perhaps individual therapists, teachers and parents noted what Ms. Raber was able to quantify; that playing an instrument resulted in greater engagement by a child with autism.

Do you have a story to share about the effect music, or musical instruments, has had on your student or child?